16 April 2014

Bloomsday Readalong Announcement

Hi Everyone!

Emily at Reading While Female and I are co-hosting a readalong of James Joyce’s Ulysses in honor of Bloomsday (June 16).  This will be a super laid-back event because this work is difficult enough as it is.  No sign-ups.  No mandatory check-in posts.  No assigned reading.  Just have at it and know that other people are reading with you.

On May 1 over here, we will post an optional start-up questionnaire for those of you who want to answer it.  Or you can write a post saying that you’re reading along.  Either way, we’ll have a Mr. Linky so you can link to your post.  If you don’t have a blog, you can post your responses in the comments.  If you don’t feel like writing a post, you can just comment that you’re participating.  Or you can be totally off the grid.  Whatever works for you works for us.

After the start day, Emily and I will trade off posting that week’s optional discussion topic on Thursday and hosting the Mr. Linky.  Though we will be providing topics, you can write about anything you want if the topic doesn’t strike your fancy.  Or you don’t have to post anything.

On June 16, we will host a readathon in case you want to power through and finish the novel on Bloomsday.  There are a lot of traditions related to Bloomsday and a readathon of the novel is just one.  Just so you know, if you read three episodes a week, you can finish in time for Bloomsday.

You don’t have to devote June 16 to finishing the novel.  You can keep reading through June 30.  For the rest of June, we’ll continue posting vague, open discussion topics for those wishing to participate.

We hope you’ll join us on the adventure!

--Emily and Lori

14 April 2014

Week 1

I survived the week!

I actually kept up with the second cardio workout in the evenings.  That wasn't always easy because there were three evenings in a row that I didn't get home until late and I still had to workout and shower before eating supper.  Two of those three I was really looking forward to the workout as soon as I walked in the door, so that was good.

The crazy thing was that I really enjoyed working out!  It took a while to adjust to waking up at 5:35.  But I was able to get my workout in and shower before I needed to leave for work, which was the main thing.  I felt good throughout the day (until I started coming down with the sinus infection, which I think was on Tuesday because I just wasn't feeling it starting Tuesday).  On the way to work in the mornings, I was already looking forward to doing my cardio workout in the evening.

I mostly made good decisions with food.  One night I really did not want to do the second workout, so I promised myself that I could have anything I wanted to eat afterwards.  However, when I finished I was so worn out that I decided to just get something at home.  Laziness for the win!

I wasn't 100% perfect though.  There were a couple of times in the past week where I wasn't super good on my eating, but I didn't go way overboard or mindlessly eat.  Then there was the whole having a sinus infection for two days, so I didn't workout at all those days.  I missed it.  I wanted to do it, but my head felt as big as the living room, so I decided to pass and just lounge on the couch instead.  No sense in pushing myself so hard that I got worse.

I got back in the swing of things on Saturday with week two.  I could definitely tell that I had taken two days off, but I powered through.  On Sunday I woke up dizzy for some reason.  I attempted to do my workout anyway.  I was able to do about 2/3 of it before I called it quits because I had to be somewhere in 45 minutes and now just wasn't a good time to push myself so hard I passed out.  But I still did 2/3 of a rather physically demanding workout.

I had to buy some inserts for my shoes because my feet were killing me.  They have helped, though I haven't done the cardio DVD since I bought them.  Also, I think my feet have adjusted to the new routine too, so hopefully I won't have any foot pain or discomfort while working out.

I have moved up to using the bigger weights for at least one of the two sets, if not both.  I think I may need to purchase some 8lb. weights before too long.  I was able to do some of the make it more difficult suggestions...at least for a couple of reps or one of the sets.  Progress!

Before starting, I didn't do any measurements.  I didn't have a measuring tape and I felt that that was maybe a little obsessive.  Also I think it takes away from the doing this to get healthy spirit of things.  (No judgment if you yourself take measurements; it's just not for me)  That said, I think I noticed some slight changes in certain places.  Nothing drastic yet though.  But from what I hear, a lot of people don't really noticed a huge difference until weeks 3 and 4.

Checking in with Zach every day has been a big help.  I have been honest about when I actually work out.  If I miss one or something changes, I tell him.  No point in lying.  It's all for my own good and no one is forcing me to do it.

I spoke with my friend on Saturday about running.  I think I am going to start walking the lake three evenings a week on weights days.  In a couple of weeks, I'll warm up for 5 minutes, jog for 5 minutes, then walk the rest of the way.  In a few weeks, I'll add a bit more onto that.  This physical activity is for me and my enjoyment.  Body Revolution is my main source of exercise.

Bottom line--I'm sticking with it!  I am proud of myself.  And I am ready to push forward.

05 April 2014

Lost My Mind

So I mentioned on Thursday that my uncle is getting married.  He's getting married in July.  I'm getting tired of looking and feeling like I'm a relative of the Michelin Tire Man, so I want to get my ass going on losing weight.

I've been thinking about all of this a lot lately.  I've been thinking about my reasons for wanting to lose weight in the first place.  Of course, part of it is wanting to look good.  Who doesn't want to look good?  But most of it has to do with being healthy.  I am tired of not feeling my best.  I feel sluggish and worn out on my worst days.  And I feel just "meh" on my best days.  There's no good reason for that at my age.  

I know I've been saying for a while that things need to change.  At the point where I feel like I am wasting my life and best years, I would say things have finally come to a head and I must change or else I am not really sure what is going to happen.  Nothing good.

For a while now, I have mostly been doing a good job of eating better.  I have been cutting portions and realizing that I am full on less food.  I am mostly making healthier choices for meals and snacks (and simply eating less when I can't make a healthier choice).  I've been trying to watch my sugary drink intake and limit myself to one a day.  Also upping my water intake.  And adding more fruits to my diet.  Vegetables are slowly being incorporated as well.  I want to start cutting down on my meat intake...but I need some recipes on how to make beans less boring so that I get enough protein.  I really want to cut down on carbs too and I have been better at balancing things out.  

Some days I have bad days where stuff just gets to me and I don't make good food choices.  That happens.  It's called life.  Food, whether it "should" be or not, is a comfort thing and sometimes you just need some comfort.  Nothing wrong with that.  I just make a better effort the next day.  No sense in beating myself up over it.

Oddly enough, my eating habits and preference have been changing quite a bit lately, particularly since I got the stomach bug at the tail end of spring break.  For instance, last night I went to drink a real sugar Dr. Pepper.  After one sip I was ready to stop drinking.  (I can't explain this next part, but please don't jump my shit for it) I kind of made myself keep going so I wouldn't waste it.  I stopped for good after half.  I'm not going go go all harsh about no Coke ever again for the rest of forever!  If I want one, I'll have one.  But not drinking them on a regular basis out of a new natural preference?  I'll take it.

Also!  I am going to a baseball game tonight.  My plan is to sneak in some strawberries so I can have a healthy snack if I want.  I'm going to eat a piece of pizza because that seems like the least unhealthy thing I can get.  Also I'll drink water...even though I've already drank almost the full recommended 64 ounces for the day.

In addition to eating better, I need a better workout.  Don't get me wrong--I still love yoga...but I need something a bit more strenuous.  By making yoga my primary form of exercise, I sucked all of the fun out of it, which meant I began skipping my morning workout.  I also wasn't really seeing any results because I wasn't really pushing myself.  I wanted a compact routine so I could do it before work, but that meant sacrificing the intensity.

So I did a bit of research, talked to a friend, and discovered Jillian Michaels's Body Revolution system.  It's a 3 month regimen.  You do four days of weights and two days of cardio and one rest day per week.  Best part?  It only lasts half an hour.  You get your ass handed to you for half an hour.  But you only work out for half an hour.  I can survive anything for half an hour.  OK, maybe not literally anything, but many things...

All of the stuff I got in the boxed set

Several reviews I read mentioned people losing upwards of 20 pounds in the 12 weeks through the exercise and a changed diet.  That would be absolutely perfect because that's right in bloody time for the wedding!

I can wake up a bit earlier each morning and get through the workout before I head off to work.  Once school is out for the semester (well, forever for me because I AM GRADUATING!!!!!) I will have a bit more flex time in the mornings and won't feel the need to show up at 7:30 every day so I can get my hours in. 

I am going to do this whole regimen from start to finish.  I am committing to working out six days a week and eating healthfully.  I will write a check-in post each weekend to discuss my progress and to keep me honest.  By my calculations, I should finish on June 27.  This is about 3 weeks before the wedding.

I started this morning.  First thing once I got up, I did workout 1.  It was hard.  But it was doable.  I rested for about ten minutes after I finished and got along on my merry way.  This is absolutely perfect for mornings before work.  As I went through the literature last night, I saw that you can "turbo-charge" your first week by tossing in an additional cardio session each day.  I went for it.  I worked out twice today.  Voluntarily.  I didn't want to die.  I didn't want to throw up.  I had to stop for a few seconds and not go all out on many of the exercises.  But I did it.  And I know I can do it again tomorrow.

Maybe it was the working out so much today, but I feel fantastic!  I want to keep going.  I want to eat better and smarter.  I want all of the bad stuff out of my body.

Basically, I don't know who the hell I am anymore.  But I kind of like it...

04 April 2014

Bookish News

I'm wanting to get more into the bookish world.  One of the things I feel like I am truly lacking is a few sources for bookish news.  I usually find things out second hand (or third or fourth) on Twitter.  And I also find out things on BookRiot.  But I want to find some things out for myself.

This morning I did some perusing on NPR Books and found two items that really interested me.

I am sad to hear that Gabriel Garcia Marquez is in the hospital.  I hope he recovers soon.  This makes me want to read his biography in the very near future.  I've started it a few times.  He comes from a very interesting line of people.  I think this definitely gave him good fodder for some of his stories, particularly One Hundred Years of Solitude.  I read a bit more about his condition.  I didn't know he has dementia.  I hate seeing people with great minds lose them through dementia.  It really makes you want to preserve everything just in case.

I also saw a really interesting book that I am considering running out and buying...in the middle of the workday...The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.  I am really excited about the premise of the book--each chapter begins with the title of a short story or book and the titular character's thoughts on the work, which introduces each character in terms of what they are reading.  I love this!  I just wrote a post at Broke and Bookish about how one of the most important questions I had for my uncle's future wife is what are her favorite books.  I think that you can tell a lot about a person by what they say, even if, as Zevin points out, people try to paint themselves in a certain way by choosing certain books.  You can find out more about the book and the author here.

Anyway, so, where do you get all of your important bookish news?  I really want some answers.

03 April 2014

More Spring TBR Books

Found on Google Image search for "Girl Reading."

It seems like as soon as I get a TBR list in place, something happens that makes me want to change it or add to it.  This time I have a pretty good reason for wanting to add a few of the books to my TBR list...

So, in addition to the 10 I posted about recently, I want to read:

1.  The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker

2.  The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

3.  Something by Jane Austen, probably Persuasion, but I don't know.

4.  Stiff:  The Curious Life of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

5.  The Colossus of Maroussi by Henry Miller

6.  Maybe something by DH Lawrence, but I don't know.

So the first three, which I totally have good reason for wanting to add has a bit of a backstory.  My uncle is getting married.  I've never met the woman he's marrying.  She lives in California.  He knew her when they were younger, they grew apart, then found each other through Facebook.  She should be coming out to Oklahoma to visit again sometime soon.  But they're getting married in July.  I need to form some sort of opinion about her in order to be happy for them, right?  Right.  So I have my uncle ask her the three important questions--is she an ou or OSU person? what's her favorite baseball team? what are some of her favorite books?  The first two tell me about her character and the last one lets me know if I will have anything to say to her.  (For the record, she has no opinion on ou or OSU and she doesn't like baseball; OK, fine, she could have said that she likes ou and is a red sox fan, so I'm really OK with her having no opinion)  Here's the thing--she likes the classics!  She's read them!  I will FINALLY have someone to talk to about literature!  According to my uncle's report of her answer, Parker is like her favorite author and she likes Wharton and Austen.  So I wanted to pick titles from each of those.  I would love to read them by the time i meet her, but I don't know if that will happen.  I think I can shoot for finishing one by then, maybe two.

The Portable Dorothy Parker has been on my list for ages!  I love how witty and snappy she was.  I know she had some personal shit, but professionally, I think she is a good role model.  I've read some of her stuff and I really like her style.  Reading some of her poetry, I am surprised to see that it's in the style and voice I eventually developed.  House of Mirth is a book that I know some people have loved and others hated.  So I want to give it a try.  It's also actually at the apartment as opposed to being at my parents' house so it's immediately accessible.  I am open to any of the Jane Austens I have left to read, but Persuasion is fairly short and sounds pretty interesting (I know--great criteria for choosing a book!).  Honestly, though, I feel like this is a kind of underrated book, so I want to show it some love.

As for the other three...I've been wanting to read Stiff for a while.  It looks fun and light, but informative and interesting as all get out.  I want to read Colossus of Maroussi for a couple of reasons.  I want to revisit Greece.  I loved Greece.  I love how I felt there.  It was very freeing.  And I came across a post earlier this week that talked about when this person recommends something by Henry Miller, they reach for this one and not Tropic of Cancer.  I think this post also mentioned DH Lawrence, which is what brought him to my mind.  I'd want to read Rainbows or Women in Love if I read anything by Lawrence.

Glancing at my spring tbr post, I can see a few books I would remove in favor of reading these.

But I don't want to get too ahead of myself.  I am still in the midst of re-reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and I am reading Light in August with Lisa.  I want to keep taking things one book at a time.

02 April 2014

Monogamous Again

I think I am finally over my book whore ways!  I've been monogamous for about a month and a half.  I've finished four or five books in that time, which was previously unheard of for me.  I feel like I've been making bigger connections with the books I've been reading, which makes me happy because that's the point of reading.

My current book and the one before it were re-reads of books that I liked the first go around, but are really becoming favorites upon re-examining them.  I'd say this is more so the case with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  It has evoked a lot of really strong feelings and memories this time around.  It's made me feel more hopeful and a bit nostalgic...but in a good way.

So, what have I done?

I am allowing myself to read only one book at a time and I can't start another until I finish.  Fortunately, I haven't had any duds yet.  I don't know what I would do if I came across a dud.  I guess I need to think about my DNF policy a bit.  Anyway, I spend my time focusing on one book and only one book.  I write in it.  I highlight and underline.  I interact with it, which makes the book more internalized.  I spend more time thinking about what I am reading.  Perhaps it's a by-product of having a million and one other things going on, but I am reflecting a lot more as I read instead of just zipping through books like I used to do.

The book I am selecting have also been quality books.  Ones that stretch my mind and make me think a bit.  I feel more confident about the prospect of reading some of the world's more difficult and lengthy books now that I have a good foundation going.  I mean, you have to work your mind like you have to work your muscles as you train.

I think one of my favorite things has been the process of selecting my next book.  As I get towards the end of a book, I start thinking about the kind of mood I am in.  I generally try to go for something totally different so that I don't get burnt out on one topic or setting.  The weather has played a large role in my book selection.  As the weather is getting warmer, I am gravitating towards places that are warmer, like when I chose The Rum Diary over spring break, but on a recent chilly day I selected A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  Sometimes something is very clearly standing out in my mind as the book I need to read next.  Other times it takes a bit for me to decide.  I might start something...but I really just pick at it, barely reading a few pages...and then I figure out what I really want to be reading and start on that.

It gives me such a feeling of accomplishment to actually be finishing books!  I have missed that.  And I don't mean accomplishment like getting a trophy.  I mean accomplishment like I feel richer for what I've been doing--time well-spent.  A definite growing process.

18 March 2014

Top Ten Books on My Spring 2014 TBR List

It's Top Ten Tuesday time!  Which is a perfectly good time for me to crank out a post.  In the past couple of weeks, I've been doing a good job about picking on book and sticking with it until I finish.  I've finished two novels and have made a lot of progress on a biography--which I am taking a break from to re-read some old favorites while I am on vacation.  Here are some books I want to tackle this spring...

1.  Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf--I always want to read this novel in the spring.  I know it's a close look at the minutiae of daily life and it's set in early June, which makes it a good spring choice.  It is a short book, but I know it's really dense.  This novel has been on my list for years (and I think it's been on my seasonal reads for a while), so I think it's finally time to tackle this one.  If I had to rank the books I want to read this spring, this one would be at the top of my list...you know, just like it is in this post...

2.  Light in August by William Faulkner--I started reading this one this winter.  I really enjoyed it, but cast it aside for unknown reasons.  For me, spring means reading Faulkner.  I am bringing As I Lay Dying (which I re-read many years at the advent of spring) with me on my trip to Mississippi, where I will visit Faulkner's house.  I am hoping that re-reading my favorite Faulkner novel plus visiting his house plus the spirit of spring will inspire me to finally read this novel.

3.  Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden--This one has been sitting on my pile for a long time.  I've heard some good things about this novel, particularly that the author does a great job of creating the character and the voice of a geisha.  I think it will be really engrossing and a quick because I can't put it down read, which means I should probably be bringing it on my trip, but I already earmarked other choices.  It will also be a nice break from some of the more difficult books I want to tackle this spring.

4.  Moby-Dick by Herman Melville--I want to finally read this novel!  It's been bugging me a lot lately.  I was going to read it a couple of weeks ago (it was going to be the first book of my I'm reading this book until I finish efforts), but I read Treasure Island instead.  I want to get a bit of space between one book about adventures on the sea and another, so I'll probably read this one later this spring.  I am trying to work on retraining my brain to deal with the long and complicated books I love in theory so, so much.

5.  In the Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway--It has been a very long time since I've read anything by Hemingway (to completion, that is).  Zach bought this one for me for Valentine's Day and I have really been wanting to read it, but the time just hasn't been right.  I started it and it makes me want to sit outside and drink cold white wine.  Hopefully, with the weather turning warmer, I can do just that while I read.

6.  Another Hunter S. Thompson book--I don't know which one it will wind up being--I have a lot of them to choose from on my shelves.  His books are always really interesting adventures and have a great commentary on the events he witnessed.  I love his style of writing, which is really raw and honest.  I'm taking his novel, The Rum Diary, with me to re-read on my Spring Break trip, but I want to read something new to me.

7.  America's Queen:  The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Sarah Bradford--OK, fine.  I've already started this one.  I'm about 200 pages into it--basically at the point where Kennedy is elected President.  It's really good and the subject is absolutely fascinating, so I definitely want to finish.  It has been languishing on my shelves since I was a junior in college.  AKA--it's time to finish.

8.  The Antidote:  Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman--This one recently came across my radar and I think the concept is really interesting.  I've been told that I am a negative person, but efforts to be more positive just feel fake to me.  So I found this book, which more or less is about being less negative and focusing on just accepting things as they are.  It even encourages you to ponder some of the negative stuff.  For instance, I love my boyfriend, but sometimes I take for granted that he'll always be there.  However, if I think about losing him, I have a renewed appreciation for his presence in my life.  I've read a bit of this and it is really interesting to think about.

9.  Therese Raquin by Emile Zola--I think that this will be a really quick and fairly easy read.  It's considered a classic and it has quite a bit of melodrama in it.  I've heard a lot about this book, like how it's a very interesting study of a woman who does some bad things and eventually grows more of a voice.  I am looking forward to seeing what happens.

10.  One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez--I've read this one before.  I think I read it the summer before I started grad school.  That was a great summer:  I read a lot of wonderful books.  The problem is that I read them super quickly.  I want to go back through this book and savor it more, see what I can get out of it.  I am debating bringing this along with me on my trip (obviously I will have decided by the time this post goes live...).  I remember really liking it, so I want to go back and see what happens when I read it slowly.  Ah!  I just love how bright and colorful the cover is, don't you?

What's on your spring list?